Cairns is one of the most beautiful tropical cities in Australia. It is also the closest city to the Great Barrier Reef.

Getting around Cairns can actually be very easy without a car. If you plan to stay within the city centre, you can walk, or use a bike to get around. Or if you want to venture a bit further out, you can always hire a car. But if you don’t have access to a car, here are some great options for getting out of Cairns.


Tours are a great option if you want to see the surroundings of Cairns. You can book a day and multi-day tours. The tour bus will pick you up from your nearest pick-up location from your hotel. Tours from Cairns can include the Great Barrier Reef, Daintree Rainforest, and Green Island. The most popular tours are to the Great Barrier Reef. These tours allow you to either snorkel, dive, or check out the underwater world in a glass-bottom boat.

Public transport

Public transport is one of the most affordable options to get you everywhere in the city. Your best bet is taking the bus. There are bus routes which take you to some shopping centres and beaches. There is also a train station that can take you out a bit further. Some of the popular stations and areas to go to are Freshwater Station and Kuranda Station. Just make sure you have a valid ticket to travel on buses and trains.

Rideshare and taxi

Cairns has a few different rideshares available in the city. You can download the apps Uber, DiDi, Ola, or 1300 Rideshare to have a car pick you up and take you to your location. You can also order a taxi.

What can you do in Cairns?

There is a lot to do in the city of Cairns, but there’s so much more to explore just outside of Cairns. Check out the cafes along Grafton Street. Or go shopping at Cairns Central Shopping Centre, at DFO, or Earlville Shopping Town. There are also many nearby beaches to enjoy. If you don’t want to leave the city, visit the Esplanade. Chill out on the man-made beach with a swimming pool.

Cairns is also most popular as the city is closest to the Great Barrier Reef. At the Great Barrier Reef you can snorkel, dive, or go on a glass bottom boat. You can also explore Daintree and Cape Tribulation. At Daintree, you can walk through the ancient rainforest or go on a cruise on the Daintree river. At Cape Tribulation, you can walk along the beautiful beach.

With or without a car in Cairns, you’ll be able to find your way around and see the tropical city.

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Cameron Ward
Cameron Ward
Managing Director at Sightseeing Tours Australia

Cameron Ward began with a passion for travel and turned it into a thriving tourism business. He co-founded Sightseeing Tours Australia after starting out as a tour guide in Melbourne. Cameron delights in helping visitors get the most from their trip to Australia. Whether he's leading tours or writing about his favourite places, Cameron loves sharing his local insight with fellow travellers.

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